Kim Novak's Home Destroyed by Fire

ByJeff Barnard

E A G L E  P O I N T, Ore., July 25, 2000 -- Kim Novak, the star of Vertigo andother film classics, sat in a small boat Monday and watched as theformer fishing lodge that had been her home and mementos of herlife in Hollywood went up in flames.

Though the flames destroyed her personally annotated scriptsfrom the Alfred Hitchcock classic Vertigo, and Picnic, aswell as the computer on which she had been writing herautobiography, Novak, 67, said her dogs, horses, llamas and afamily of orphaned Canada geese she had raised were spared.

“I take it personally as a sign my story should not be told,”Novak said of the book she has been working on for 10 years. “Iread signs. Unfortunately, they have to be pretty heavy duty signsfor me to recognize them.”

Fallen Tree Linked to Fire

The fire was apparently electrical, and probably linked to atree falling across a power line the night before, said Deputy FireMarshal Phil Cardinal. It moved quickly through the one-storywoodframe house, apparently reflected inward by the metal roof.

Novak’s husband of 23 years, large-animal veterinarian BobMurray, said a cottonwood had fallen across a power line the nightbefore, and power company crews restored electricity aboutmidnight.

The couple slept outside on a porch, and when they got up before7 a.m. Monday, the power was off in the bathroom. Malloy said heswitched a circuit breaker to restore power, and went into thekitchen to make coffee. Then a smoke alarm went off.

He went into the bedroom, where flames were coming from underthe bed. He called to his wife, who was in her studio, to get outof the house. Within minutes, the flames had spread across the backof the house.

“I heard the smoke alarm and thought, ‘Those silly things thatmean nothing,’” Novak said. “I looked out and saw all thoseflames.”

Back of House Wrecked

The fire sent up a column of smoke that was visible tofirefighters rushing to the house.

Afterwards, the front of the house stood almost unharmed, butthe back was a charred wreck, the metal roofing twisted and hanginginto what used to be Novak’s bedroom and living room.

Novak said she got into a small boat in a slough of the RogueRiver behind the house, both to comfort the young geese livingthere and to get a broader perspective on the fire. She regrettedthat she didn’t have her camera to record the spectacle.

“It said, ‘Don’t look back,’” she said of the fire.

Left Hollywood in the 1970s

A former model, Novak’s sex appeal and charisma launched herinto stardom in the 1950s. Along with Vertigo and Picnic, shealso starred in The Man With The Golden Arm before retiringfrom films in the 1970s.

Married for 23 years, Novak and Malloy left California forOregon, where she had spent summers with her father as a child, andbought a ranch in the rural community of Chiloquin on the east sideof the Cascade Range. They bought this house three years ago to becloser to the Rogue River. Novak named it Wingsong for thesongbirds that flocked around it.

Faced with round logs and featuring a big stone fireplace, thehouse was built in about 1937 as a fishing lodge by the Bishopfamily of Monterey, Calif., and Novak and Malloy remodeled itextensively, said Malloy.

Wearing a cowboy hat and large sunglasses as she walked throughthe charred remains of her home, Novak stopped to look at astained-glass window of an eagle she had designed.

She marveled that a painting she had done of her father and anold newspaper clipping about how she and Albert Einstein werefavorites of visitors to the 1964 World’s Fair, had survived, whiletwo paintings of her by artist Walter Keane had been destroyed.

Novak said this loss was easier to take than the loss of herhome in Bel Air, Calif., to a mudslide in the 1960s, which carriedoff paintings by Picasso as well as her own work.

“That made me realize what was valuable,” she said.

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